R. Missotten & M. Patzak
Geoparks Secretarlat, Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, UNESCO, 1, rue Miollis, 75732 PARIS Cedex 15, and France
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is establishing a global network of national Geoparks to promote territories around the world which integrate sites of significant geological heritage in a strategy for regional socio-economic development. The concept combines aspects of safeguarding and sustainable management and must be based on a strong concept, political will with financial long-support, and professional management structures.
Protecting and developing geological heritage within the Global Geoparks Network is of special interest to UNESCO, due to the fact that it is an excellent tool for educating the broad public towards sustainable development and Earth Science matters. UNESCO enjoys the unique position of being the only agency within the United Nations System to have a specific programmer on earth sciences and capacity building in geosphere-related areas. Its new Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences - in cooperation with international partners - is committed to support ad hoc efforts within individual Member States as appropriate. It is against this background that Geoparks activities and the creation of a Global Network of National Geoparks supported by UNESCO has to be been as complementary activities to the 'World Heritage' and the 'Man and the Biosphere Reserve' programmers. The Global Geoparks Network has 38 members from 12 countries and is currently enlarging its membership with new applications from Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada Chile, Namibia, Kenya, Iran, Malaysia, Vietnam and Zambia.